Background: Endovascular procedure simulators are now commercially available and in use for physician training. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the role of simulation-based training in vascular surgery residencies.
Methods: Residents from vascular surgery programs in a five-state area were invited to participate in a series of 2-day endovascular training programs that used a high-fidelity endovascular procedure simulator (SimSuite; Medical Simulation Corporation, Denver, Colo), didactic instruction, computer-based training, and tabletop procedure demonstrations. The curriculum covered arteriography and intervention for treatment of aortoiliac, renal, and carotid artery disease. Nine residents participated, with one to three per training session. Each completed an average of 9.5 simulated endovascular cases. Performance on a standardized TransAtlantic Inter-Society Consensus B iliac angioplasty/stenting case was used to assess endovascular skills and knowledge at the beginning of the training program, and this was repeated at the completion of the training. Performance metrics were measured by the simulator, faculty observed trainees' performance of simulated cases, and trainees provided their evaluations of the usefulness of the simulation experiences.
Results: Endovascular procedural skills on the standardized iliac intervention case improved after completion of the training program. Compared with performance early on day 1, performance improved (P < or = .05; paired t test): total procedure time decreased 54%, volume of contrast decreased 44%, and fluoroscopy time decreased 48% (mean change from baseline). Selection of angioplasty balloon catheters and stents was improved, and the average number of catheters used and stents deployed decreased, although this did not reach statistical significance. Faculty observation allowed identification of shortcomings of knowledge and skills, including common problems with selection of catheter, balloon, and stent sizes; correct positioning of the sheath; and intraprocedural monitoring. Postcourse evaluations indicated support for the use of simulation in vascular surgery residents' endovascular training.
Conclusions: Training with a simulator, incorporated into an individual or small group learning session, offers a means to learn and realistically practice endovascular procedures without direct risk to patients, with measurable improvements in key performance metrics. How simulation training affects subsequent clinical performance has yet to be established.